This Week at Woodland Let’s Write Tankas!



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This Week at Woodland

Let’s Write Tankas!

Samauri, Shogun, Fuji, Tanka…not the typical seventh graders’ everyday vocabulary! But Woodland seventh graders have been recently immersed in the world of Medieval Japan, and these words are now less strange to them.

Seventh grade social studies teacher Ms. Addie Raines explains: “The seventh grade students are learning about life in Medieval Japan. We have learned about the Samurai and Shogun, who were the warriors and military leaders of the day. The students compared and contrasted Samurai armor and weapons with today’s weapons and armor. We also discussed the role of our military today. We learned that Mt. Fuji is based on the legend of Princess Asama, who was thought to have lived inside the volcano. We used the Smartboard to show interactive pictures of Mt. Fuji.”

“During the Middle Ages, the Japanese wrote poems, stories, and plays. Japan’s oldest form of poetry was the Tanka (Tahng-kuh). Tankas are unrhymed poems of five lines containing thirty-one syllables. The students, after learning about these very specialized poems, wrote their own.”

Student Joseph Radford enjoyed the unit. He shared that “The Samurai were very brave; they would never give up or betray their masters. The poems were easy and exciting.” Joseph’s poem is CRUSH.

They are going down

Down and down I’ll never see

No more love to be

The sky has turned gray today

Death has come for me today

Whitney Clements found the poems hard because of the specified number of syllables, but said it was fun to experience writing a poem. Her poem is titled GONE FOREVER.

He will never come

Gone forever shall he be

For love is no more

Sadly I will be gone too

Forever the two will be.

Destiny Atkinson likes poetry and relates that her poem came easily to her. She likes the connection of poetry to nature and everyday life. Destiny’s poem is LOVE THAT CAN NOT BE.

You try to be seen,

For that love that can not be.

Love is what you thought,

But that thought can not be bought.

For why can’t that love just be?

Joey Riddle had three words for the Tanka poetry: Awesome, cool and easy! His poem is WAR/BATTLE SCARS.

My face is a mask

I have war scars on my face

My family died

Each scar represents a war

Each hole represents a friend.

Garret Reynolds really likes poetry. He tells that Edgar Allen Poe is his inspiration; he had a Poe book as he was growing up. He shares his poem, OCEANS, with us.

I am standing here,

Overlooking the ocean,

It looks relaxing,

Yes it is so amazing,

I am so peaceful right now.

Betsy Lincoln enjoyed the whole Medieval Japan unit as she wrote her Tanka, WINTER.

Winter changes life

Trees change from crispy to bare

The wind blows and howls

The new frost puts on a glow

The change is delight to some

Darian Sloan had fun writing his poem, DEER HUNTING.

Getting up early

To finally kill that buck

Steady, then fire!

Drops to the ground with a thud



Go to him and take your prize

If poetry was an important part of medieval life in Japan, with heroes such as the Samurai and Shogun, it is nothing to be ashamed of in our day! Poetry comes in many forms, rhyming and unrhyming, long, short, with strict formulas and free form, acrostic, limericks and Tanka! Woodland seventh graders are enriched by the Tanka experience, so find a seventh grader and ask to hear their creation! You will most likely be impressed.


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